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The beliefs and practices of early Chʻüan-chen Taoism 1989

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THE BELIEFS AND PRACTICES OF EARLY CH'UAN-CHEN TAOISM By STEPHEN EDWARD ESKILDSEN B.A., International Christian University, 1986 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Asian Studies) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 1989 ©Stephen Edward Eskildsen, 1989 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2/88) ABSTRACT The following is an in depth analysis of the beliefs and practices of the Ch'uan-chen sect of religious Taoism during its early years (spanning roughly from 1160 to 1220 A.D.) under its founder, Wang Ch'ung-yang, and his direct disciples, Ma Tan-yang, T'an Ch'ang-chen, Liu Chang-sheng, Ch'iu Ch'ang-ch'un, Wang Yii-yang, Hao Kuang-ning and Sun Ch'ing-ching (who are commonly referred to as the Seven Perfected). In undergoing this analysis, an attempt is made to clear up the many serious misconceptions of modern scholarship while bringing to light various vital aspects of the sect that have been largely ignored. The essential point that is made is that contrary to the widely held notion that the Ch'uan-chen sect was a highly syncretic movement (some scholars have maintained that it was originally not actually a sect of religious Taoism) that tried to reform religious Taoism by doing away with its various "magical" and "superstitious" elements (physiological techniques for long life, belief in miracles performed by Taoist holy men, Taoist rituals, exorcistic healing etc.), the Ch'uan-chen sect primarily emphasized various beliefs and practices that were unique to the Taoist religion, including those that have tended to be considered "magical" or "superstitious". While it is acknowledged that the Ch'uan-chen sect was indeed highly syncretic in spirit and that its central doctrines (such as the definition of "Immortal-hood" and the methods of "Perfection Cultivation" which are undergone in order to attain it) had come to differ considerably from those of religious Taoism in its earliest years, it is pointed out that these changes had all taken place within religious Taoism prior to the Ch'uan-chen sect and were the result of a long, evolutionary process that had been going on for centuries. Out of discretion for the lack of thorough knowledge concerning the various religious Taoist movements that preceeded the Ch'uan-chen sect, no definite statement is made concerning what the unique contribution of the Ch'uan-chen sect 11 towards the doctrinal development of religious Taoism may have been. However, the suggestion is made that the sect may have emphasized the importance of intense ascetic training more than any preceeding religious Taoist movement. III TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ii List of Abbreviations vi Introduction (a) Opening Comments 1 (b) Brief Historical Summary 14 (c) Problems in Modern Scholarship 24 Chapter One: The Asceticism of the Ch'iian-chen Masters 38 Chapter Two: Theories and Methods of Life Nurturing 67 (a) The Anatomy 71 (b) The Causes of Disease and Death 85 (c) How the Ch'uan-chen Masters Combated Disease and Death 98 Chapter Three: The Mercy and Compassion of the Ch'uan-chen Perfected Men (and Women) 137 Chapter Four: The Miraculous Powers of the Ch'uan-chen Perfected Men (and Women) 205 (a) How to Attain Miraculous Power 209 (b) The Miracles 253 Rituals in Early Ch'uan-chen Taoism 311 (a) Attitudes towards Rituals 317 (b) How to Perform Rituals Properly 340 (c) Annotated Translation of the Ritual for the Joyful Birthdays of the Two Immortals Chung and Lu Preface 388 Text 395 IV Confession 409 Bibliography 413 Plates 420 V LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS CCC- Ch'ung-yang Ch'uan-chen Chi ~ i" f lo^- S; I t CHL- Hsuan-feng Ch'ing-huiLu ~£ CLC- Chin-lien Cheng-tsung Chi <£T xli J E L ^ S ^ CYC- Tung-hsuan Chin-yu Chi HC- Chin-lien Cheng-tsung Hsien-yuan Hsiang-chuan ^ X ^^ibSj^^^ HYL- T'i-hsuan Chen-jen Hsien-i Lu %JL §& H ^ f c KSL- Kan-shui Hsien-yuan Lu 1 ^ ) M i t \ J / ^ j t MTC- Ch'un-yang Ti-chlin Shen-huaMiao-t'ung Chi j$if%> NCC- Huang-t'ing Nei-ch'ing Yu-ching ^0: NP- Ch'i-chen Nien-p'u ~t - ^ i f TJC- Yuan-shih Wu-liang Tu-jen Shang-p'in Miao-ching 7^ A / ^ J ^ a ^ H £ TTCC- 7a-tan Chih-chih iZ. -ft j£ ?! TYL- 7a«-yan£ C/ie«-ye« S ^ " ^ $ 1 YFC- Huang-ti Yin-fu Ching H^Wfe YSC- Ch'ung-yang Chen-jen Chin-kuan YU-suo Chueh^^%lSlf^ INTRODUCTION (a) Opening Comments "There was a person who questioned the Perfected ManjL/C saying, 'People are born between Heaven and Earth. Even though they can be called the most worthy they are but one of the myriad [living] things. Who could [possibly] be able to escape the numbers of yinf^$i andyartgfH??1 Who could be able to escape from the mechanisms of creation? What has a beginning always has an end. What has birth always has death. This is the constant principle of nature. If one is not endowed with extraordinary ch'i 2 , Immortal- hood cannot be sought. If you do not meet with pre-determined fate, the Tao cannot be studied. Must you make your body suffer and impoverish yourself? [Longing for Immortal-hood] is like binding your shadow, catching wind, notching ice, or carving rotten wood. By [trying to] do things that definitely cannot be done, you seek results that are difficult to accomplish.' The Perfected Man sighingly lamented saying, 'The marvelous principle of long life, people share. The woods of the Immortals; who is not able to seek [them]? There are those who are lazy and do not accomplish [Immortal-hood]. They are visible and they are very numerous. There are those who are diligent and have results. They hide [themselves] and are very few in number. People regard what they see much of as believable, and regard what they do not see as doubtful. Eventually because matters of Immortal-hood are not clearly visible, they regard them as something which cannot be hoped for. Let us try to examine this with the principles of things. Metal ore which is refined can be made into iron. Bronze which undergoes projection3 can be made into gold. A fish jumps over [Mt.] LU- l iang^^ 4 and becomes a dragon. A pheasant enters the water and becomes a shen ^ bivalve. Ice which melts easily can iThe Chinese conceived of two basic complementary principles that make up the universe. Yin is what is dark, cold, evil, heavy, moist, female etc. Yang is what is bright, hot, good, light, dry, male etc. The questioner essentially seems to be arguing that since humans are but a part of this universe of yin and yang they have a limit to the number of days that they can exist as does everything else. 2Solid, liquid, gaseous and formless material that things are made out of. 3"Projection" refers to a process conceived of within both Western and Eastern laboratory alchemy in which a large amount of a certain substance is transformed (usually into gold) by bringing it into contact with a very small amount of another substance. 4A mountain in Shansi which was formed when the legendary emperor Yu'^) dug a large ditch in order to tame the great flood. 1 survive the summer if you store it. Grass which withers easily can survive the winter if it is covered. If people are able to cut off what they cherish and get rid of their covetousness, preserve the female and embrace the One, make their minds travel to serenity and combine their ch'i with empty nothingness; they will also be able to rise high, reach far, climb the scenery, ascend to vacuity, wander freely, ride and control enemy winds, go about flying, respond to the staffs of the Perfected [Men], mount a whale and travel to Ts'ao- hai* , mount a phoenix and ascend the blue darkness, transform after 1000 years like the cranes of Liao-tung)^^, (southern part of Liao-ningi^.'^-Province), and gaze at the sunrise like the wild ducks of She Districtl l^in Honan). With those like An C h'i4?^ 6 andHsienMen^P*! 7 ,and those like Hung Ya5#y4 8 who penetratingly perceive the profound, [they will] line up with the ranks of the Immortals. It is not difficult.9 Those who have acquired the Tao and lightly risen [to Immortal-hood] in past and present cannot be sufficiently counted. Your saying that there is no sign [of Immortal-hood and its attainability] is like a deaf person's inability to hear the sound of bamboo chimes or a blind person's not knowing that there are colors such as bright red or blue. With such shallow insight and slight hearing, how can one speak of the Tao?'"10 5A legendary island of the Immortals. 6Refers to An Ch'i-sheng,^SA , a famous Immortal who is said to have instructed Ch'in Shih Huang- ti|N£ (259-210 B.C.). 7A legendary alchemist-Immortal who Ch'in Shih-huang-ti frequently sent envoys out in search of. 8A legendary Immortal who was active during the reign of the Yellow Emperor. 9 Perhaps this word would be better translated as "impossible" in this particular context. of prefece to Wang Ch'ung-yang's Ch'ung-yang Ch'Uan-chen Chi, a poetry collection found in bound volumes #793-795 in the Tao-tsang^ (Taoist Canon). From here on, the volume number in which a Tao-tsang text appears will be denoted by the customary abbreviation, TT. This preface was written by Fan Yi^'I'lf a scholar (Superintendent of Schools^? jH ) of Ning-haii^ jJf- in Shantung. Frequently mentioned within the Ch'uan-chen hagiographies and poetry collections is a Fan Ming-shin "f^S^^^.who was an ardent Ch'uan-chen believer and a long-time friend of Ma Tan-yang. This is probably the same person as Fan Yi. "Ming-shin" seems to have been the sobriquet or the style name of Yi. For the original Chinese text see Plate 1. 2 The above conversation allegedly took place between Wang Ch'ung-yang Pin (1112-1170)11 and a sceptic and is recorded in the preface of Ch'ung-yang Ch'Uan-chen Chi ~%f^^l J^Hi. (from here on I will use the abbreviation, CCC to refer to this work), a collection of Wang's poems. Wang was the founder of the Ch'iian-chen<il^ (Complete Perfection) sect of religious TaoismilL^C*, a sect which was to enjoy immense popularity during the latter part of the Chin<3b Dynasty12 (1115-1234) and throughout the YuanTCa Dynasty13 which followed. The sect has survived (albeit with a severely decreased following) up to this day. Whether this conversation actually took place is questionable. Yet it conveys the fundamental spirit of the Ch'uan-chen sect very well. In it we see Wang arguing in favor of a basic standpoint of faith; faith in the existence of the ImmortaPftU, the human being who has trenscended the normal boundaries of mundane existence, and faith in the ability of himself and other ordinary human beings to attain Immortal status. It was the faith in this Immortal-hood14 and its attainability which formed the cornerstone of the Taoist religion. Based upon this faith were two basic kinds of religiosity which were put into practice. One was primarily that of the Taoist clergy who engaged full-time in training aimed at attaining Immortal-hood. The other was primarily that of the laity who looked towards the benevolence and guidance of the Immortals to bring them good fortune in the Ĉh'ung-yang was his Taoist sobriquet"^"^l. Throughout this paper I will be referring to the Ch'uan- chen masters by their Taoist sobriquets because such is the way in which they are usually referred to in Ch'uan-chen literature. Wang's personal name was Che^n*. 12This was a period of foreign rule under the Jurchen^ -fc people. 13The dynasty of the Mongols which unified China in 1279 and collapsed in 1367. 14X use the term "Immortal-hood" so as to avoid confusion with "immortality" as it is ordinarily understood. As we will be seeing, Immortal-hood , as it had come to be defined in religious Taoism, no longer literally meant for the human body to bypass death. 3 present life and in future lives.15 Wang Ch'ung-yang was an accomplished monk16 who was regarded by his followers as a living Irnmortal or a Perfected Man, as were his famous top disciples (commonly referred to as the Seven Perfected~tl ); Ma Tan-yang •K-W-^J 17, ran Ch'ang-chenif-rl^ 1 8, Liu Ch'ang-sheng^jJL^-19, Ch'iu Ch'ang- ch'unic.-lMr 20, Wang Yi i -yang^Xflo 2 1 , Hao Kuang-ningtt'f ? 2 2 and Sun Ch'ing-ching^li^lj^23. As Perfected Men (and a Perfected Woman), Wang and the 15The Buddhist concept of re-incarnation had thoroughly been incorporated into the religious Taoist world view. 16Although Taoist clergymen are usually referred to as priests due to the fact that the role that they perform today is primarily a ritual one, I will frequently be using the term "monk" because the Ch'uan-chen clergy practiced monasticism. Taoist monasticism seems to have begun in the early 6th century and at one point came to be expected of the Taoist clergy in general. The great Henri Maspero tells us that "...certain chiefs of sects such and Sung Wen-ming1^-"^^ in the first half of the sixth century, adopting the ideal of the Buddhist religious life, require their disciples to "leave the family", chu-chia i&^ft-. , and to renounce marriage. Gradually that becomes the rule for the tao-shih^&S^ (Taoist clergy), so much that at the beginning of the seventh century, under the Sui, the tao-shih of the Sung-yang kuan, Li Po, will have to make a report to the emperor to remind him that it was not forbidden for tao-shih to marry and asking, for himself and other tao-shih , to marry. Celibacy had become the rule under the Tang. From that time on the tao-shih constitute a clergy entirely similar to the Buddhist clergy, a clergy of celibate men and women clearly separated from lay believers and gradually losing their influence over them through that separation." (pp.390-1 of "An Essay on Taoism in the First Centuries A.D." in Taoism and Chinese Religion translated by Frank A. Kierman) 17Personal name Yii/f£. (1123-1183) 18Personal name Ch'u-tuan^^. (1123-1185) 19Personal name Ch'u-hsuan̂ ."̂  . (1147-1203) 20Personal name Ch'u-chi^.^ (1143-1227) 21Personal name Ch'u-i^— (1142-1217). Yu-yang was his style name rather than his Taoist sobriquet. For some reason the hagiographies and poetry collections preferred to use his style name rather than his sobriquet Chu-yang^t f~§h (this peculiar character "chu" was an invention of Wang Ch'ung-yang) .or San- yang^p7§5. I will occasionally be referring to him as "Yu-yang" rather than with his surname so as to not confuse him with his master. 22Personal name Ta-fung Ttjjj,. (1140-1212) 23Personal name Pu-erh^Z- . (1119-1183) She was the wife of Ma Tan-yang before he underwent his conversion by the hands of Wang Ch'ung-yang. 4 Seven Perfected were extremely dynamic, both in terms of the way in which they painstakingly strove for the attainment of Immortal-hood'^ (also referred to as "Perfection"-̂ :) and the way in which they enthusiastically strove to meet the demands and needs of the ordinary lay believers. In this paper, I would like to examine in detail the way in which these highly intriguing personalities taught and practiced their religion. What is particularly interesting about the arguments made by Wang is that they strongly (and perhaps intentionally) resemble the arguments made more than 800 years earlier by the great writer on laboratory alchemy24, Ko Hung i^Y^-, in his classic, Pao- "If you claim that all breathing things follow one fixed norm,your thesis cannot be sustained, for the pheasant turns into a shen ^ bi- valve, the sparrow becomes a clam, earth bugs assume wings, river frogs come to fly, oysters are changed into frogs, hsing-ling plants become maggots, field mice become quail, rotting grass turns into lightning bugs, alligators become tigers, and snakes become dragons. If you claim that man, unlike other creatures, has an undeviating nature—that the destinies bestowed by August Heaven are not subject to vicissitudes—how can you account for instances where Niu Ai became a tiger, the old woman of Ch'u a tortoise, Hunchback a willow, the girl of Ch'in a stone, the dead came back to life, males and females interchanged sex, Old Peng enjoyed great longevity, but a baby son died prematurely? If such divergences exist, what limits can we set to them? If a genie (Immortal) nurtures his body with medicaments and prolongs his apportionment of life with special arts, illness will not arise from within him, nor will disease strike him from without. Though he attains everlasting vision and does not die, the body which he has long had undergoes no change. There is nothing difficult about this provided one possesses the divine process. The shallow-minded, however, cling to popular beliefs and preserve the ordinary ways: They merely say that because they see no genii in their world it is not possible that such things exist. But what is so special about what our eyes have seen? Why should there be any limit to the number of marvelous things that exist between the sky and earth, within the vastness of Unbounded? All of our lives we 24"Laboratory alchemy" needs to be disdnguised from "physiological alchemy" which was an integral part of the Taoism of Wang Ch'ung-yang, as we will soon be seeing. 5 have a sky over our heads but never know what is above it; to the end of our days we walk the earth without ever knowing what is below it. Our bodies are our very own, but we never come to understand how our hearts and will become what they are. An allotment of life is ours, but we never understand how its actual measure is achieved. And this is even more true in the case of the more abstruse patterns governing gods and genii, and the dark mystery surrounding God and the natural life. Isn't it a sad spectacle to rely on the surface perceptions of eyes and ears in judging the existence of the subtle and the marvelous?"25 The Taoism of the Ch'uan-chen masters26, like that of their distant predecessor Ko Hung, can be said to have been an investigative proto-science of Immortal-hood. They strove to discover for themselves how they could undergo the transformation into the state of Immortal-hood. In the ensuing pages I will show in detail the methods that they used for this purpose. We will also see that the methods that had to be undergone in this quest varied from one practitioner to another; and that a certain degree of individual innovation was required for each person to attain Immortal-hood. Without any doubt, the definition of Immortal-hood along with the methods that were used for attaining it had changed drastically from what they were for Ko Hung. Ko Hung believed that the ultimate requirement for Immortal-hood was the successful concoction and imbibing of of a special elixir pill of artificially-made gold. Therefore his Pao-p'u-tzu is a treasure chest of various detailed directions and recipes for producing this elixir. The Ch'iian-chen masters did not engage in any kind of laboratory alchemy. In his reply to the sceptic, Wang gives a rough summary of what his basic approach was; to cut off all worldly attachments, to rediscover one's innate good nature (which is equivalent to the Tao 2 7 itself) by maintaining a flexible and non-forceful lifestyle and outlook (preserve 25Here I have borrowed the translation of James R. Ware on pp. 37-38 in Alchemy, Medicine, Religion in the China of A.D. 320: The Nei P'ien ofKo Hung (Pao-p'u-tzu) . 26When I use this term in this paper, it refers to Wang and the Seven Perfected. 27The Tao is not supposed to be definable by words, but for the sake of convenience allow me to say that it is the ultimate principle that transcends Creadon but yet is present within everything. 6 the female), to maintain a calm and undistracted mind, and to cultivate and refine the solid, liquid, gaseous and formless material or energy (cfc'i'fL) that makes up the human body. This multi-faceted training that they underwent was called "Perfection Cultivation'^^. For Ko Hung, an Immortal was a person who never underwent the death of the physical body, who would quite often become a sort of bird-man who possessed wings and feathers and was able to fly. For the Ch'uan-chen masters, an Immortal was a spiritually enlightened person in complete control of his body and its fate who possessed various supernormal qualities and who had the compassion and power to bring great benefits to others. This Immortal conceived of by Wang and his followers would undergo the inevitable death of the physical body, but upon his or her death would have a refined yang spirit that would ascend into an everlasting, deified existence. In the ensuing pages, for the purpose of clarity, I will use the term, "Perfected Man"^ .A to refer to the Immortal prior to the death of the physical body and the term, "Immortal'''{LU to refer to the everlasting, deified mode of his or her existence. (Although the general tendency of the Ch'uan-chen texts is to use the terms, "Perfected Man" and "Immortal" in the way in which I will be using them, this distinction in their usage is by no means absoulute.) This very drastic change in the definition of Immortal-hood and the way in which it was pursued was the result of a very slow but steady evolution of religious Taoist doctrines and practices which very noticeably featured a large-scale incorporation of Buddhist ideas and ways, and a shift towards an emphasis on physiological alchemy rather than laboratory alchemy. Perhaps the most significant events that initiated the development of this trend were the alleged revelations that gave birth to the Shang-ch'ing_h)i| and Ling-pao 7 scriptures that took place in the same region where Ko Hung lived28. The Ling-pao scriptures were allegedly revealed to Ko Hsuan1l)5\, an uncle of Ko Hung, in the early third century, but were apparently actually written in the late fourth century by his descendant, Ko Ch'ao-fu . The Hsu family, among whom Hsu Mio^f&^and Hsu Hui1^>$lacted as patrons of Yang Hsi^^the recipient of the Shang-ch'ing revelations (which took place during the years 364-370), was related to the Ko family through marriage. The Taoism that developed out of the new doctrines that were thus "revealed" had emerged to an extremely prominent position the Chinese religious scene by the time of the T'ang Dynasty. The Ling-pao school seems to have been especially instrumental in developing various traits which became important traits of the Ch'uan-chen sect such as monasticism and an emphasis on ritual methods for the salvation of the dead. Unfortunately, due to a lack of understanding of the fact that this adoption of Buddhist ideas and methods along with the emphasis on physiological alchemy was the result of a long evolutionary process, modern scholarship has tended to see the Ch'uan- chen sect as a reformist sect which took upon its own hands the task of ridding the Taoist religion of its various "superstitious" and "magical" tendencies and syncretizing it with Buddhism and Confucianism. This problem I will discuss in more detail shortly. Going back to the conversation between Wang and the sceptic, we can see that, despite the drastic changes that had taken place in the concept of Immortal-hood and how to attain it, Wang (and his followers) venerated the prominent Immortals of yore such as An Ch'i-sheng, Hsien-men and Hung Ya. Even more important as objects of veneration for 28The general vicinity of present day Nanking in Chekiang Province. 8 them were legendary Immortals such as Lu Ch'un-yang^^^ 2 9 , Chung-li Cheng-yang /£fj@$L$$0Q and Liu Hai-ch'an^j^^ 3 1 who were particularly popular during their time. The belief in such Immortals who were themselves at one time just mere mortals was an important motivational force for the aspiring adepts of the Ch'iian-chen sect. There is in fact ample evidence that such Immortals were believed to occasionally manifest themselves in order to instruct and guide those who were deemed worthy in terms of their will and moral character. Thus a vital part of the Ch'iian-chen belief system was that the founding masters such as Wang Ch'ung-yang had themselves had mystical encounters with such legendary personalities. The Ch'uan-chen masters themselves seem to have made such claims of having had such seemingly impossible encounters. The fully enlightened and accomplished Ch'uan-chen master was himself labeled a "Perfected Man" who during his remaining lifetime was to devote himself to the merciful and compassionate salvation of all living things and reveal the ultimate secrets of Perfection Cultivation to those whom he deemed as fully worthy and deserving. Such a Perfected Man was considered to be not only spiritually enlightened but also in full control of his physical health and immune from hazards such as the diseases and demons which jeopardize the bodies of ordinary ignorant people. Even after the crude, mundane body had reached its inevitable demise and the 29Personal name Yen ̂  . Is also commonly affectionately referred to by his style name Tung-pin;ls}j|[ . Is said to have been born in 798 A.D. Whether or not he was an actual historical figure is highly controversial. I am inclined to doubt it. 30Personal name Ch'uan^.. Style name Yiin-fang'g^ . Ch'iian-chen hagiographies say that he was once a military general under the Han Dynasty (206B.C.-8 A.D. and 25-220 A.D.). Chao Tao-i's Li-shih Chen-hsien T'i-tao Tung-chien^f-^i^p^^^^u says that he served under the Chin<£> Dynasty (265-419 A.D.). 3 Personal name Ts'ao^t^ (fl. 1031). He is said to have been an official who served under the Liao Dynasty (937-1125) of the Khitan^-f^peopl6- He is also said to have been the teacher of the outstanding physiological alchemist and patriarch of the Southern Sect^f)^?, Chang Tzu-yang §|L!̂ ]T15 (d. 1082). 9 Perfected Man had entered his everlasting existence as an Immortal, he was thought to at times intervene with human affairs. Thus the Ch'iian-chen masters themselves were believed to at times manifest themselves to believers after their deaths, or to in mysterious ways bring aid to believers who sought their divine assistance. The phrase, "respond to the staffs of the Perfected [Men]", seems to refer to the ability of the Immortal (the emancipated yang spirit of the Perfected Man) to manifest himself or come to the assistance of the Perfected Men who call upon him, particularly within the context of Taoist rituals. In the conversation between Wang and the sceptic, you will notice that the sceptic is not necessarily completely confident that Immortals do not exist. Rather, his main criticism of Wang is that he is toiling in vain. Arguing that Immortal-hood, if there is in fact such a thing, must be something that one is pre-destined towards from birth, the sceptic maintains that the hardships which Wang so constantly puts himself through are but ignorant exercises in futility. This argument, even more than the argument against the very existence of the Immortals, aims at the essence of what the Ch'uan-chen sect in its earliest years stood for. The central endeavor that had to be undertaken on the road towards Perfection was the complete elimination of desires, and the attainment of total control over one's physical body and its feelings and urges. If a person could do this, he was supposed to be able to gain a total peace of mind and realize and preserve the One inside of him. The One is the principle of the Tao which is present within all people and all things which one can realize solely within oneself without seeking it outwards. This One is in fact the Immortal yang spirit. Essentially, Wang blames the inability of people to realize this innate potential towards Immortal-hood on "laziness". And in my opinion, perhaps the most definitive characteristic of the early Ch'iian-chen sect was their hard work. Realizing that the elimination of desires and control over the body was the most urgent task that needed to be 10 undertaken, the Ch'uan-chen masters underwent the most extreme and arduous ascetic practices in order to maintain self-discipline. From the eyes of their contemporaries, it was this emphasis on asceticism that seems to have distinguished them from other Taoist sects. While in Taoist asceticism was by no means a Ch'uan-chen innovation, it seems very likely that the Ch'iian-chen sect took Taoist asceticism to extremes previously unrealized. Because I feel that this emphasis on relentless ascetic self-training was the most definitive trait of early Ch'iian-chen Taoism, the first chapter of my discussion will be devoted to this aspect. In it I hope to give the reader a sense of appreciation for the extreme measures which the Ch'iian-chen masters resorted to out of their sincere belief in the attainability of Immortal-hood. We will see how, while living an entire life of self-induced poverty and simplicity, the Ch'iian-chen masters each underwent a period of extremely intense self-denial during which, in some cases, their lives were endangered. We will also see how at this intense stage, each master strived individually, using his (or her) own judgement to discover and carry out the training methods best suited for him, until he could at some point convince himself that he had in fact attained Perfected Man status. In Chapter Two, I will discuss the various theories and practices involving the curing and prevention of diseases. The opinion of many modern scholars has been that the Ch'iian-chen masters greatly de-emphasized Taoist theories of "life-nurturing'^|_^£. or even tried to do away with them. My opinion is that preventing and curing diseases was a very major concern for the Ch'iian-chen masters; and this is the major point that I will be arguing in the chapter. In doing so I will discuss how the Ch'iian-chen masters viewed the human anatomy, what they believed to be the causes of disease and death, and what methods they prescribed for preventing and curing diseases. During the discussion, we will see how many of the ascetic practices described in Chapter One were based upon these medical theories, and that many of the "life-nurturing" methods were designed to help the 11 adept withstand the various hardships such as extreme cold, heat, hunger or sleep deprivation which the adept would subject himself to. I will wrap up the second chapter by discussing how the Ch'uan-chen masters saw the various methods of life-nurturing as indispensable prerequisites for spiritual enlightenment and Immortal-hood. Chapter Three will be a discussion of the vital role played by the ideal ethic of mercy and compassion!^ the sole feeling that was supposed to motivate the Perfected Men and the Immortals. We will see how the Ch'uan-chen masters, as self-proclaimed Perfected Men, endeavored to help all living things both spiritually and physically through charity and evangelism. While striving to fully exhibit the attributes of mercy and compassion which were defining characteristics of an authentic Perfected Man, the Ch'uan- chen masters also looked in hope towards the merciful and compassionate protection and intervention of the Immortals and strove to gain mystical encounters with them. We will also see how the lore involving Immortals like Lu Ch'un-yang who would frequently intervene in human affairs was utilized to exhort the common lay believers towards proper conduct based on reverance, devotion, humility and kindness. Chapter Four will be a discussion of the various types of miraculous power which the Ch'uan-chen masters allegedly exhibited. In the first part of the discussion I will discuss the doctrinal, theoretical framework within the teachings of the Ch'uan-chen masters which seems to have provided the basis for the ardent belief in miracles that is so clearly expressed within the hagiographies. We will see how the final stages of Perfection Cultivation were a process in which the adept comes in contact with the transcendant realm of supernormal experience and power, and engages in crucial "battles" with internal and external demonic forces. The second part of the discussion will then introduce the reader to the various alleged miraculous feats of the Ch'llan-chen masters and speculate as to what 12 degree the various miracle stories were actually based on the doings and claims of the Ch'iian-chen masters themselves. In Chapter Five, we will examine the various Taoist rituals (aimed at bringing various benefits to people such as rain for the crops, protection from diseases and other misfortunes, and the deliverance of damned souls) performed by the Ch'iian-chen masters. In the first part of the discussion, I will discuss the degree of emphasis laid upon rituals within the Ch'uan-chen sect in its earliest years. Contrarily to the pre-dominant view of modern scholarship that claims that Wang Ch'ung-yang tried to de-emphasize or do away with "magical" Taoist rituals, we will see that the Ch'uan-chen masters always saw rituals as an important aspect of their activities and that the frequency with which they performed their rituals progressively increased as their reputations as powerful Perfected Men grew. In the second part we will examine, in as much detail as possible, how they performed their rituals and what it was they deemed to be the essential requirements for a ritual to be efficacious. Appended to Chapter Five will be a prefaced and annotated full translation of a liturgy to be performed in celebration of the birthdays of the Immortals Chung-li Cheng- yang and Lu Ch'un-yang, which is quite likely representative of a type of ritual which was unique to the Ch'uan-chen sect and sects closely related to it. As a result of having read these five chapters, I hope that the reader can come to understand as fully and accurately as possible what the Ch'iian-chen masters believed and taught, and the things which they and their followers did as a result. I hope that I will be able to refute some of the fallacies concerning the nature of the Ch'uan-chen sect along with some of the undeserved labels that have been pasted onto Wang Ch'ung-yang and the Seven Perfected. But before plunging into the body of my discussion, I am obligated to give a very brief historical summary of the Ch'iian-chen sect and the socio-political context 13 in which it developed, followed by a summary of some of the serious problems that I have come to see within modern Ch'uan-chen scholarship. (b) Brief Historical Summary The history of the Ch'iian-chen sect can perhaps be said to have begun with a bizarre event that transpired in the year 1159 in Kan-ho Township "ffP^J0z. near present day Hsi- anSî !?. Wang Ch'ung-yang32 was sitting in a butcher shop drinking liquor and eating meat in large quantities when he was encountered by an Immortal (who for some reason looked like two identical-looking young men clad in white garments) who transmitted secret lessons to him. From this time on, Wang (who had already acquired a reputation as a heavy-drinking, peculiar character) started to act even more like an insane wild man 3 3 In the following year he met the same Immortal(s) at Li-ch'iian^:^, They then drank together at a saloon where Wang had more secret lessons transmitted to him. The hagiographies differ considerably with eachother as to who exactly it was that he encountered on these occasions. Some34 do not specify who it was, most35 say that it was Lii Ch'un-yang and one36 says that it was indeed two men; Lii and Chung-li Cheng-yang. Whatever it was that actually took place, it was from this time on that Wang began to 32Who at this time seems to have answered to the personal name "Te-wei"^-i^C and the style name, "Shm-hsiung"#i&. *6"Hu-hsien Ch'in-tu-chen Ch'ung-hsiu Chih-tao KuanPei ' ' ^ p l ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ' ^ l t f e ^ in KSL. 14 embark upon the process of building up his own sect. He first needed to attain Perfected Man status for himself through rigorous Perfection Cultivation. This he did at Nan-shih Villagevfl^f N̂fwhere he lived and meditated extensively inside of a burial mound that he had built for himself with a sign by it that read, "Grave of the Living Dead Man" The fact that he was already entertaining visions of large-scale evangelism was indicated by his symbolic act of planting four Hai-t'ang^^. trees around the "grave". The character "hai";^ means "sea"; and thus the four trees symbolized the four seas throughout which Wang felt that his teachings would permeate and resonate. After two and a half years he left the burial mound and built himself a straw hut in Liu Chiang V i l l a g e ^ ^ t at the foot of Mt. Chung-nani^ i\\ (near present day Hsi-an) where he engaged in further ascetic training with a few disciples. In 1164 he had a third mystical encounter. Wang was carrying a gourd of liquor back to his hut from Kan-ho Chen when he was confronted by a Taoist monk who asked him for a drink out of his gourd. When Wang gave him the gourd, the monk instantly gulped down every last drop, went to the river, filled the gourd with water, and gave it to Wang to drink. The taste was extraordinary, and after he drank the "liquor of the Immortals^^, Wang never drank liquor again. The monk introduced himself as Liu Hai-ch'an^')^^^. What actually happened in these alleged instances, and whether Wang actually claimed to have encountered these Immortals is a highly controversial issue that cannot really be satisfactorily resolved. My own opinion, which I will be elaborating upon in Chapter Three, is that Wang probably did have these mystical encounters within his own subjective realm of experience; perhaps during dreams or meditational trances. Wang's years at Nan-shih and Liu-chiang were greatly successful in that he managed to attain Perfection (or at least thought that he had) through his efforts and was able to have his required mystical encounters with Immortals. But in terms of acquiring a following, he 15 was not very successful, even though he had a few disciple whose names are known; Ho Yu-ch'an^Sj^, Li Ling-yang$.$.fife, Yen Ch'u-ch'ang^^ % a n d S h i h C h ' u - h o u ^ ^ l - . Eventually he seems to have realized that he would need a change of scenery in order to gain a substantial following. So in the early summer of 1167, he set fire to his hut and traveled alone on a long journey to the Shantung Peninsula. In Shantung he acquired a much larger following and came in contact with the Seven Perfected who were to carry on his legacy and make the Ch'iian-chen sect into perhaps the largest and most socially and politically influential organized religious movement in northern China. Wang arrived in Ning-hai4r^T about four months after his departure from Liu-chiang. There he met his eventual successor, Ma Tan-yang for the first time at a party held at the home of Ma's friend, Fan Ming-shih^d ̂  ^(who apparently authored the preface to CCC that I quoted at the very beginning). The wealthy Ma, who was intrigued by the eccentric and witty Wang, took him home with him. Wang set up a meditational hut in the southern garden of Ma's mansion and named it the "Ch'iian-chen Hut" (Hut of Complete Perfection). This seems to have been the reason for why his sect came to be known by the name, "Ch'iian-chen". Eventually Wang succeeded in convincing Ma to abandon his wealth and his family life and become his disciple. During his stay at the Ch'iian-chen Hut, Ch'iu Ch'ang-ch'un, T'an Ch'ang-chen, Hao Kuang-ning and Wang Yu-yang also became his disciples. In the spring of 1168, Wang took his disciples to Mt. K'un-yu^,-^" A\ and trained them in a harsh, spartan manner in a cave that he named "Smoky Mist Cave"X^|fy$. It is said that even though many people were attracted to Wang and wanted to become his disciples because they were impressed by the numerous miracles that he performed, they invariably would flee from him because they could riot stand the ordeals (including 16 scoldings and whippings) that he would put them through. This was supposedly the reason for why he had so few disciples who trained under him. But he soon began to make significant strides in expanding his sect's following. Early in the fall of 1168, Wang and his disciples left Mt. K'un-yu, and over the next fourteen months moved about throughout Shantung preaching to people. During that span, Wang succeeded in forming his Five Congregations 35-̂ 1* 3 7 which seem to have been primarily made up of lay believers who would regularly gather for joint worship, scripture recitation and perhaps meditation. During this period, Liu Ch'ang-sheng and Sun Ch'ing- ching became disciples. At the end of 1169, Wang took Ma, Tan, Liu and Ch'iu with him to Pien-ching i/TlK (present day Kaifeng^^) where he put them through more intensive training until the spring of 1170 (the first month of the tenth year of the Ta-ting"7^^ reign era of the Chin Dynasty) when he passed away, designating Ma as his successor as the leader of the sect.38 The early development of the Ch'iian-chen sect took place under consecutive periods of foreign rule; first under the Chirrj^ Dynasty of the Jurchen people and then the Yuan7vl> Dynasty of the Mongols. The Jurchens gained full control of northern China after a long and bloody war with the Chinese Sung^. Dynasty that lasted about seventeen years from 37Three Teachings Seven Treasure CongregationĴ §fcrt."flHil in Weng-teng"^^" District, Three Teachings Golden Lotus Congregation in Ning-hai, Three Teachings Three Lights CongregationZ-$$L.-=-7C^ in Fu-shan̂ H>iL\ , Three Teachings Jade Flower Congregation in Teng-chou^^i and Three Teachings Equanimity Congregation j i ^ t - f ^ F ^ " in Y e h ^ District. 3 8 As sources for this summary of Wang's life and ministry, I have relied primarily on Kubo Noritada'fS^^&'Chuugoku no Shuukyoo Kaikaku—Zenshinkyoo no Seiritsu^^iO^l-^^L pp.87-132 and Yao Tao-chung, Ch'iian-chen: A New Taoist Sect in North China During the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries pp.41-72. 17 1125 to 1142.39 The Mongols began to attack the Jurchens in 1210 and succeeded in conquering the entire region north of the Yellow River in 1215. The Jurchens, whose kingdom had dwindled to just the regions of Honan and Shantung (one of the hotbeds of the Ch'uan-chen sect) tried to make up for the territory that they had lost by engaging in another war with the Sung, but were unsuccessful. Pressure from the Mongols, the Chinese and the Hsi-hsia© JL kingdom in the west combined with peasant revolts brought the Chin Dynasty to its demise in 1234. Conflict and bloodshed continued throughout much of China until the Mongols conquered everybody in 1279, and set up what was perhaps the most inept and exploitative government in Chinese history (aside from perhaps, the present government). Much thought has been given by modem scholarship concerning the impact that these painful political and social circumstances had in bringing about the founding and development of the Ch'uan-chen sect. Modem Chinese scholars Ch'en Ming-kuif^^Ji, (a Ch'uan-chen monk who wrote during the late 19th century) and Ch'en YuanPfJ3_ (whose book was published in 1958) asserted that Wang Ch'ung-yang was an ardent nationalist strongly motivated by anti-Jurchen sentiments who at times may have even engaged in combat with Jurchen troops. Because of this, Wang and his disciples have 39Ironically, the war had started with Chin and Sung as allies. Hoping to regain control of the sixteen Yen-yun*̂ . ̂  prefectures (northern Shansi, northern Hopei and the southern tip of Chahar) that had been under the rule of the LiaotE Dynasty of the Khitan people, Sung negotiated an agreement with the Jurchens, who were a rising force that had liberated themselves from Khitan rule, that they would pay them the same amount of tribute that they had been paying Liao if they would help them in attacking the Liao troops. The plan was that the Jurchens would capture the central capital of the Liao Dynasty, Jehol; while the Chinese would capture Beijing. When the weak Chinese troops failed on their end of the agreement, the Jurchens conquered the entire Liao kingdom by themselves. So then the Chinese engaged in war with the Jurchens over the land that they had wanted to acquire but failed miserably, eventually losing all of the northern provinces and moving their capital to Hangchow^t M to begin what is referred to as the Southern Sung Dynasty. 18 come to be portrayed in the highly popular martial arts novel, Shen-tiao Hsia-lu^ $$4$4% (written by the contemporary novelist Chin Yox&Jfe ), as martial arts experts who defended their people against the "barbarians". When I visited the Ching-chung (Ch'iian- chen) Taoist Temple in San Francisco, I was surprised to be told by the head priest, Rev. Yau 4 0 , that the Ch'uan-chen sect under Wang practiced monasticism in order to maintain their secrecy and solidarity as they carried out their small-scale military resistance. Other Ch'iian-chen scholars, particularly Kubo Noritada^ /£> of Japan have argued effectively against the idea that the Ch'iian-chen sect was a nationalist movement. This entire issue is not something that I wish to resolve or discuss in depth. I prefer to refer the reader to the books of Ch'en Ming-kui, Ch'en Yuan, Kubo and Yao Tao-chung (a good, balanced discussion written in English) that I have listed in my bibliography. But to merely state my own opinion, there is little or no evidence that the Ch'uan-chen sect was a nationalistic movement. To the contrary, the fact that there were non-Chinese people among its membership and its teachings emphasized non-violence would seem to indicate that the Ch'iian-chen sect had no anti-foreign or revolutionary intentions whatsoever. But still, one cannot doubt that the unique political and social circumstances of the time had a great impact on the development of the sect. Wang Ch'ung-yang and his older disciples undoubtedly witnessed much of the anguish and bloodshed of the Chin-Sung war, and as a result sensed an urgent need for some way in which to alleviate the plight of human beings. It is also a fact that a lack of good employment opportunities under the Jurchen government probably caused a high number of Chinese intellectuals like Wang to turn towards the religious life. While the earliest years of the sect's existence coincided with a brief period of relative peace and stability, the sect seemed to have really begun to 40This contemporary Ch'uan-chen organization has abandoned the practice of celibate monasticism. I refer to the head priest as "Reverend" because this is what he calls himself. 19 reach its height during the miserable years of the Mongol conquest when much of the population began to greatly feel the need for saviors (which is what the Ch'iian-chen masters purported to be) who could somehow alleviate their plight. After Wang had died and had been buried at the site at Liu-chiang Village where he had trained, his disciples dispersed in various directions41 to engage in training and evangelism 4 2 The new leader Ma Tan-yang evangelized in the Shensi region (the home area of his master which was at one time not very receptive to the Ch'iian-chen teachings) where he succeeded in winning over many people. But in the winter of 1181, the Jurchen government (which for some reason viewed the sect with disfavor and suspicion) ordered Ma to leave Shensi and return to Shantung. Ma obeyed, leaving his Shensi ministry in the hands of Ch'iu. Ma died in 1183, and in the ensuing years as the sect's leadership was handed down to T'an, Liu and Ch'iu; the sect continued to grow rapidly while eventually gaining recognition and support from the government, even though they were still occasionally given a hard time43. In 1187, Wang Yii-yang was summoned by Emperor Shih-tsunglT ^ for his advice on how to maintain good government and good health. Similar invitations eventually went out to Ch'iu in 1188 and Liu in 1197. As the Chin kingdom began to receive the deadly blows of the Mongol war machine, the Ch'uan-chen sect seems to have grown more rapidly than ever with Ch'iu and Yii-yang as its most 4 1 M a and Ch'iu trained and evangelized in Shensi. T'an, Liu and Sun did so in Honan. Yu-yang and Hao remained in Shantung. 4 2 I n summarizing the accomplishments of Wang's disciples, I have relied on Kubo pp. 169-188. 4 3 I n the 1190's when the pressures of the rising Mongol forces on their borders were giving the Chin Dynasty financial trouble, they resorted to raising revenue by charging heavy permission fees to be payed for the ordination of monks and the establishment of temples. Because of this, some of the major Ch'uan- chen temples temporily went out of operation until Wang Yii-yang visited the court in 1197 and payed the necessary fees the following year. 20 visible figures. The fame of Ch'iu grew so much44 that Genghis Khan eventually heard of him and decided to summon him. Ch'iu (who was 76 years old at the time) complied, and in the spring of 1220 embarked on a long westward journey along the northern plains from the Shantung Peninsula to the Hindu Kush mountains in Central Asia. He finally arrived there in 1222 and is said to have primarily urged Genghis to be more lenient and less violent in his inevitable conquest of China, while also giving him some medical advice (some of which we will be examining in Chapter Two). As a result of this mission, Ch'iu is said to have successfully swayed Genghis towards using less violence, and as a result saved a countless number of lives. Also, the Ch'uan-chen sect was as a result able to receive a great amount of favorable treatment from the Mongolian Empire such as complete exemption from taxation. This heroic journey is perhaps the greatest highlight of Ch'iian- chen history which has to this day made Ch'iu the most famous and respected among the Ch'uan-chen masters. Yet, modern scholarship has frequently (and rightfully) pondered over what the actual motives of Ch'iu and Genghis Khan were. Did Ch'iu make his trek out of a sincere feeling of wanting to save the lives of his fellow countrymen, or was he primarily interested in attaining more political influence for himself and his sect? Did he really save all of those lives? Was Genghis really interested in hearing what this aging holy man had to say about government and health care, or was he just trying to bring under his thumb one of the most famous and popular men in China? These are all important and intriguing questions which I lack the time or the capability to try to answer. 4 4It is said that when the Chin armies were unable to subdue a peasant revolt in Shantung in 1214, Ch'iu stopped the uprising through verbal persuasion. It is also said that when a troop of bandits raided Ch'iu's party on the journey to see Genghis Khan, the bandits changed their minds and went away as soon as they realized who they were raiding. 21 Under Mongol rule, the Ch'uan-chen sect was clearly the largest and most influential Taoist sect in Northern China, and perhaps the most popular organized religion of any kind. One of the greatest accomplishments during this time was the compilation (completed in 1244 after seven years of hard work) of the Hsuan-tu Pao-tsang$3>X^i the largest Taoist Canon ever assembled, which had 7000 chuan^t. .45 g ut i e s s than four decades later, this Canon was destroyed by as a result of what was perhaps the most embarrassing event in Ch'iian-chen history. The "event"46 was started when the Buddhist monk Fu-yuffj^-complained to the Mongol court about the Lao-tzu Pa-shihihua T'u-f&ri Vi"-"-^110 (Diagram of the 81 Transformations of Lao-tzu) that the Ch'uan-chen sect, under the leadership of Li Chih- ch'ang <f> 4 7 , had printed and distributed. This diagram accompanied by the text of the Lao-tzu Hua-hu (Scripture on Lao-tzu's Conversion of the Barbarians) was of a nature that was highly slanderous towards the Buddhists in that part of it portrayed how Lao-tzu (the legendary author of the Taoist philosophical masterpiece Lao-tzu) traveled to India and instructed the Buddha (some versions of Hua-hu-ching say that he became reborn as the Buddha). This complaint, along with accusations that the Ch'iian-chen Taoists had used their money to win the favor of the government, taken Buddhist temples by force, destroyed Buddhist images and pagodas and disseized Buddhist gardens and land, prompted the emperor to declare certain disciplinary measures 4 5 See Yao pp.191-193. 4 6 See Kubo pp.191-197 and Yao pp.151-169. 4 7 T h e leadership of the sect after the death of Ch'iu was succeeded by Yin Ch'ing- and L i Chih-ch'ang. 4 8 T h i s text is generally believed to have been forged by a Taoist named Wang Fu during the Western Chin^S "si Dynasty (265-316 A.D.). However, Kubo Noritada has raised the interesting theory that the text was originally written by the Buddhists who at the time wanted to identify themselves with the Taoism so that Chinese people could feel more familiar with them. 22 against the Ch'iian-chen sect in 1255. But these measures were not actually carried out. This prompted further complaints from the Buddhists. So the emperor decided to resolve the issue by staging a debate between the two religions in 1256.which the Taoists failed to show up for. Further debates were held in 1257 and 1281 which the Taoists did show up for. Each time, the Taoists lost easily and were publicly humiliated. As a result, many of the leading Ch'uan-chen monks were made to shave their heads; and all Taoist scriptures (excluding the Lao-tzu book) were ordered to be destroyed. Accusations involving the various misdeeds of the Ch'iian-chen sect seem to have started roughly around the time right after Ch'iu Ch'ang-ch'un had made his heroic trek and the sect had risen to the peak of its prominence.49 As we will be seeing later on, a major factor that distinguished the original Ch'uan-chen masters from their successors was the fact that the original Ch'iian-chen masters seem to have taken a very friendly and respectful attitude towards Buddhism. Complacency and arrogance seem to have already caused the sect to in some ways drift away from the original intentions of its founders. But strangely enough, despite the humiliation and the disciplinary measures that resulted from the debates, the Ch'uan-chen sect maintained a considerable degree of official support, as can be seen from the fact that Mongol Emperor Wu-tsung^.^ bestowed honorary titles upon the Ch'uan-chen Patriarchs in 1281, right after the final debate. There is not much to say about the sect's history after this point which is really of any concern to my discussion, other than the fact that it has continued to exist to this very day despite the fact that its following has dwindled severely over the centuries. On the mainland in Beijing, the Pai-yiin K u a n^^llL. (White Cloud Monastery) still operates as 49Yeh-lu Ch'u-ts'ai's Hsi-yu LuiS^S^j^. accuses Ch'iu himself of various misdeeds towards the Buddhists. 23 a quiet monastic community and a major tourist attraction supported by government funds. Also, there is an international missionary organization called the Ching-chung Taoist Association^S^^^^^based in Hong Kong which has major branches in Taiwan, Australia, San Francisco and soon in Vancouver, British Columbia. For a more detailed introduction to the history of the Ch'iian-chen sect, I recommend the following books: Ch'en Ming-kui, Ch'ang-ch'un Tao-chiao Yuan-liu^^>0^f^ (in Chinese) Kubo Noritada, Chuugoku no Shuukyoo Kaikaku: Zenshinkyoo no Seiritsu^^^^^L (in Japanese) Yao Tao-ch'ung, Ch'iian-chen: A New Taoist Sect in North China during the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries (in English) (c) Problems in Modern Scholarship Now let me introduce the reader to some of the arguments that have been made by modern scholarship which I will be disputing in this paper. As can perhaps be seen from the above historical summary, a lot of good, thorough studies have been done on the Ch'iian-chen sect, as far as its history and development is concerned. It is definitely one of the most frequently studied and well known religious Taoist sects. So the natural question that would have to be asked is, "Is there a need for yet another lengthy study on this particular sect?" My answer to that question , of course, is "Yes." This is because I have come to realize that while my predecessors in this field of study have in many ways done an admirable job, they have failed seriously in coming to terms with the essential beliefs and practices of the early Ch'iian-chen sect. The following are some of the misleading 24 statements that were made in Ch'en Ming-kui's (1824-1881) ground-breaking piece of Ch'iian-chen scholarship: "I, in my middle ages I sensed an extraordinary omen and studied the Tao at the Su-lao Kuan (Taoist monastery) of [Mt.] ~Lo-fu%k*%r- (in Kiangsu). The monastery is of the Lung-men^iP^ faction of the Ch'iian-chen which originates out of Ch'iu Ch'ang-ch'un. During my spare time I studied the history books along with the books of the Taoist Canon. Essentially I realized that the doctrines of Ch'ang-ch'un are deeply founded in the essential sayings of the Tao-te [Ching ] (Lao-tzu ), and are free of the corruptions of later men such as nuturirig through refinementXf^and ingestion^^.'^.(Taoist alchemy and medicine), or [using] registers (lists of names and descriptions of gods) and talismans to ward of misfortunes (Taoist rituals)."50 "Generally speaking, the origins of thechai-chiao rituals, the k'o-i$r\A$$. (special altar rites performed by an ordained priest), the talismans and registers, and the controlling and summoning [the gods] along with the ingestion of the Golden Elixir in later generations (after Lao-tzu) [can be traced to] men like Luan T a ^ / C 5 1 , Liu M i $ P ^ 5 2 , Lin L i n g - s u l S t 5 3 and T'ao Chung-wenf^Kvt^l5 4 who used these [methods] to deceive the rulers of men in hope of gaining wealth and nobility. Can they be compared to Ch'ang-ch'un? (No, Ch'ang-ch'un is far superior) Ch'ang-ch'un told his disciples not return the bones of Chao Hsu-ching^F^-IH? to his hometown saying, "The false body made up of the four elements in the end is something which must be thrown away. For the Single Numinous Perfected Nature to be independent without bondage; this comes from quickly and thoroughly understanding the meaning of death and life."55 50translated from Ch'en Ming-kui, Ch'ang-ch'un Tao-chiao Yuan-liu p.2 of author's prefece. See Plate 2. 5 1 An alchemist and magician who drew the favor of Han Emperor Wu-ti. 5 2 A Taoist alchemist who concocted the pill of artificial gold which poisoned and killed Emperor Hsien- tsung^ ̂  (r. 805-820 A.D.) of the T'ang/11 Dynasty 5 3A Taoist priest who is said to have influenced and corrupted Emperor Hui-tsung ̂ f^C^of the Northern Sung Dynasty. 5 4 A Taoist exorcist and healer who won the acclaim of the imperial family during the Ming Dynasty.(1368-1661). 5 5ibid. pp.173-174. See Plate 3. 25 Ch'en Ming-kui, was a prorninent Confucian scholar and teacher (he was also a local militia leader who combatted local bandits) who seems to have undergone a mystical conversion experience late in his life ("sensed an extraordinary omen"^f|^Cj) which inspired him to become a Taoist monk. In saying that the Taoism of Ch'iu Ch'ang-ch'un (the Ch'uan-chen sect) did away with alchemy, he seems to have been correct. But as we will see later, he was seriously rnisguided in thinking that the same could be said about the ritual aspect of Taoism. What must be considered a mystery is why he did not know better and why he himself seems to have discredited the validity of Taoist rituals despite the fact that he himself was a member of the Ch'iian-chen clergy. As far as what can be seen from the activities of the sect today, rituals have remained an integral component just as they were in the sect's earliest days. Was the particular monastery where Ch'en studied any different? I do not know. Anyway, in Ch'en's statements is a clear attempt to vindicate the validity and worth of his sect by distinguishing it from the religious Taoists who had become so infamous over the centuries, particularly from the orthodox Confucian viewpoint, for their charlatanry. It seems almost as though this erudite scholar who had undergone his sudden, inexplicable transition to the religious life was trying to somehow vindicate his actions to his educated peers who may have begun to entertain doubts about his integrity or even his sanity. Whether such was the case, we will never know. Again, he was probably right in maintaining that early Ch'iian-chen Taoism was opposed to charlatanry, and was deeply concerned with maintaining the integrity of the faith. But in implying that the Ch'iian-chen sect sought to undo the heresies of the alchemists and ritualists and restore Taoism to what was intended by Lao-tzu, he was wrong. It is clearly evident that while they certainly emphasized the teachings of Lao-tzu, they were also greatly indebted to the various traditions of medicine, mysticism, Immortal lore, and ritual worship and healing that developed through the centuries; originating from the hands of the 26 alchemists and "magicians" (commonly referred to as fang-shih~h ̂  ) of antiquity, and handed down through the various schools of religious Taoism. While they were critical of the potential charlatans amidst themselves, there is no evidence of their ever having been critical towards Taoist alchemists and ritualists such as those that Ch'en cited. To the contrary, they seem to have looked upon such characters with a high degree of veneration, as can be seen from the passage that I quoted in my opening comments. In his sermons delivered to Genghis Khan, Ch'iu Ch'ang-ch'un spoke of an alleged incident in which the very same Lin Ling-su^^"^ cited above takes the spirit of the Northern Sung Emperor Hui-tsung^^L1^ with him on a mystical wandering into the high heavens and shows him the palace where he lived before his incarnation as a ruler of human beings. When Hui- tsung expressed his desire to not return to the human realm, Lin talked him into returning and continuing his reign.56 This story that Ch'iu told certainly does not reflect a critical attitude towards Lin Ling-su's activities within the imperial court. As an example of how Ch'iu differed from the Taoist charlatans, Ch'en Ming-kui shows us how he clearly refuted the notion of immortality of the physical body (upheld by the fang-shin and the early religious Taoists) and maintained that immortality of the spirit was to be attained through proper insight of the essential truths of existence. We will soon be seeing that while they certainly upheld this basic attitude, the Ch'iian-chen masters still adhered to the various quintessentially religious Taoist methods of health care and also that the process undergone in attaining proper insight was very much a physiological one based on the methods that evolved out of the archaic immortality cult. What Ch'en failed to understand or perhaps simply ignored was the fact that religious Taoists that preceeded the Ch'iian-chen sect had 56Hsuan-feng Ch'ing-hui Lu J^lftji&tL (CHL) p.5b 27 long since refuted the notion of immortality in its literal sense, and had adopted the Buddhist notion of the body as something which one must become emancipated from. The redeeming quality of Ch'en Ming-kui's book that allows it to still be the most enlightening study on Ch'uan-chen Taoism to this very date (once the reader can see his way through Ch'en's apologetics and nationalist propaganda) is the fact that as an insider he makes frequent quotes from some of the the actual teachings of the Ch'iian-chen masters, and seems to have had some understanding of physiological alchemy along with the fact that the Ch'iian-chen road towards enlightenment was very much a physiological process as well as a spiritual one. He also acknowledges the fact that the belief in miracles, inspired by the doings and claims of the masters themselves, did play an important role in the expansion of the sect in its earliest stages. Unfortunately, scholars during the middle of this century seem to have virtually ignored most of the valuable insights that Ch'en Ming-kui had to offer, while picking up and expanding upon the "reformist" theory. What also came to be continously taken note of was the highly syncretic aspects of the sect. As a result, some scholars even denied that the early Ch'iian-chen sect was actually a religious Taoist sect, while others tried to draw a distinct line between the Ch'uan-chen sect and preceeding forms of religious Taoism, frequently using the terms "New Taoism" and "Old Taoism": "When the Ch'iian-chen [sect] first arose, it was nothing more than a gathering for reclusive cultivation [whose doctrines and methods] did not go beyond [the basic notion], 'If one can complete one's nature and life-destiny amidst a turbulent world, one need not seek to be heard and recognized by the various lords.' The world, because it was neither Confucianist nor Buddhist, mistakenly saw it as Taoist. In reality it originally called itself 'Ch'uan-chen' (In other words, they did not use the word 'Taoism' to refer to themselves.) 28 If one must regard it as Taoism, it is but a reformist faction of Taoism."57 (Ch'en Yiianf^tE.) "The Ch'iian-chen sect appealed for the union of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, and its goal was not to spread traditional Taoism. Perhaps they had the intention of preserving the traditional thought of the entire [Chinese] people He [Wang Ch'ung-yang] did not teach people to pray and recite scriptures, nor did he teach people to concoct elixirs and write talismans. Rather, he simply taught people to recite the Tao-te and Ch'ing-ching 58scriptures, the [Prajna Paramita] Heart Sutra and the Classic of Filial Piety. In actuality [his motivation] was in his intention to preserve the spirit of the Three Teachings (the culture of the Han [Chinese] people)."59 (Yao Ts'ung-wuM££) "Old Taoism such as the Heavenly Masters Sect traditionally from ancient times made this-worldly benefits their major concern, emphasizing ageless long life by means of methods such as talismans and charms or the taking of medicines, and thus strongly bore the form of a magical religion. Furthermore, when concerning matters of salvation, the solutions towards the spiritual suffering of people or solutions for the ultimate problems such as death, they evaded the issue; claiming, according to [the theories of] the Immortality Cult, that one could become an Immortal in the flesh. Therefore, generally speaking, they were inadequate [in the way they confronted such essential problems]. Actually, such points (worldly benefits, Immortality Cult) were the unique characteristics of Taoism, and were the reasons for why Taoism was popular among so many people, but were also what were severely attacked by [adherents of] Confucianism and Buddhism; particularly the latter. 57Translated from Nan-sung-ch'u llo-pei Hsin-tao-chiao K'ao .(1958) p.2. See Plate 4. 5 8 This refers to the religious Taoist scripture, T'ai-shang Lao-chun Shuo Ch'ang Ch'ing-ching Ching ^1_(TT341), which seems to date from perhaps the Wu-tai '3LA<± (Five Dynasties) Period (907-960 A.D.). This scripture, attributed to Lao-tzu, expounds the concept of purity and stillness Pk%$ while in some parts bearing a striking resemblance to the Buddhist Heart Sutra. 59Translated from "Chin-Yuan Ch'iian-chen Chiao te Min-tsu-ssu-hsiang yu Chiu-shih-ssu-hsiang" &&&$J&^fJ^%£U^£&& pp.180-181 in Tung-pei-shih Lun-ts'ung^tS&%^ (1959). See Plate 5. 29 On the other hand, the sects of New Taoism60 did not speak of ageless immortality and this-worldly benefits, but rather made the salvation of the spiritual suffering of the people their aim. In regard to the Ch'iian-chen sect, the fact that a person who had mastered the great matters of life and death was called a stalwart of the Ch'iian- chen, and that seated meditation which was a method of "seeing the nature was emphasized, clearly indicates that [the doctrines of] the Ch'iian-chen sect went along the same lines as [those of] Mahay ana Buddhism in which the self was considered to be the Dharma nature, and that the Ch'Uan-chen sect considered the ultimate solution to the problem to be to arrive at a peace of mind that transcends death. In other words, [the Ch'tian-chen sect sought] the salvation of the soul. Also, the fact that while rejecting the Immortality Cult and the Way of the Golden Elixir which had been popular, they used their (Way of the Golden Elixir's) terminology with modified meanings indicates that they aimed at internalizing the Old Taoism or that they wanted to shed themselves from it and protest the secularization of the religion. Also, it does not seem like a mistake to say that such changes took on the tendency to erase the image [of Taoism] as a magical religion."61 (Kubo Noritada) "The Ch'iian-chen sect arose to form a variety of secularized62 New Taoism The Ch'iian-chen sect took 'the study of the Tao's inner power and the nature and life-destiny'63 of [the variety that emphasized the notion that] 'the Three Teachings correspond completely'. This was a product of the unique social and political circumstances and at the same time was an inevitable result of the fact the that the religious 60This refers to the Ch'uan-chen sect along with the Chen-ta-tao sect and the T'ai-i — sect which also developed in northern China under Jurchen rule. 61Translated from Chuugoku no Shuukyoo Kaikaku: Zenshinkyoo no Seiritsu (1967) pp.198-199. See Plate 6. 6 2For Ch'en Chun-min, a mainland scholar who seems to be writing from a Marxist viewpoint, the word "secularized" is apparently used with highly positive connotations meaning that the sect was relatively free of the "superstitions" that typically are found within Taoism and within religions in general. The contrast with Kubo is very interesting in that Kubo sees "secularism" (a lack of concern with spiritual matters and an excessive concern with attaining worldly benefits) as a drawback of "Old Taoism" that the Ch'iian-chen sect "reformed". 63"Nature" refers to innate human nature, and "life-destiny" refers to a person's allotted fate and lifespan. Because the Taoism of the Ch'tian-chen sect also greatly involved the study and nurturing of "life-destiny", traditional religious Taoist methods of maintaining the health were emphasized by them. 30 Taoism of the T'ang and Sung 'reached the peak of its corruption and changed'."64 (Gh'en Chun-minf#&&) As you will be seeing in the ensuing chapters, most of the statements made in the above passages are misleading. The basic problems with the statements of Ch'en Yuan and Yao Ts'ung-wu is that despite the fact that they had little or no prior knowledge of what the Ch'iian-chen masters themselves actually wrote (unlike Ch'en Ming-kui), they apparently went ahead and made generalized statements about the teachings of the Ch'iian-chen masters based solely on assessments written by prominent Confucian scholars and Taoist monks of the Chin and Yuan Dynasties (which are generally found within the biographies of the Ch'iian-chen masters or within inscriptions on stone steles at Ch'uan-chen monasteries and temples which have been preserved within the Taoist Canon and other various literary collections) along with evidence that is to be found within the hagiographies.65 The following are two examples of the type of evidence that they relied upon: "The flow of the Taoist school; its origin comes from Lao[-tzu] and Chuang [ChouĴ t-J&l 6 6 . People of later times mistook their original intentions and branched off into factions and practiced fang-shu ~lF>tfft (refers to various methods of magic, immortality, prognostication etc. practiced by the fang-shih ), registers and talismans, baking and refining, and chiao rituals using memorials67. The more it became divided into factions, the more 6 4Translated from "Ch'iian-chen Tao-chiao Ssu-hsiang Yuan-liu K'ao-lueh" ^ k ^ y ^ y & J & i f c ^ K f e - in Chung-kuo Che-hsueh ^H) ^ (January, 1984)p.l67. See Plate 7. 65Ch'en Ming-kui also referred primarily to these kinds of sources, but supplemented his insight thus attained with his considerable knowledge of the actual teachings of the masters. 66Author of the fourth century B.C. Taoist philosophical masterpiece, Chuang-tzu%S-2r~. 6 7 As we will be seeing later, chiao^. refers to a large-scale Taoist ritual in which priests typically present "memorials"^ to the various high gods of the divine bureaucracy. 31 i their confusion distanced them [from the teachings of Lao-tzu and Chuang Chou], and this went on for a long time. But when it came to the Chin period, Perfected Prince [Wang] Ch'ung-yang, without the guidance of teacher and friends became enlightened by himself away from people; virtually as though he had received a transmission from Heaven. [He] arose from [Mt.] Chung-nan, arrived at [Mt.] K'un-yu. [He] beckoned those who were like him, instructed and guided them, trained and disciplined them and established a school of teaching called 'Ch'iian-chen'. Their training generally took as its basis [the principles of] knowing the heart and seeing the [innate Tao] nature, eliminating emotions and getting rid of desires, withstanding humiliation and enveloping filth (enduring disgrace), and making oneself suffer in order to benefit others." (The passage then quotes some passages from Lao- tzu and Chuang-tzu in order to demonstrate how the methods of the Ch'iian-chen masters restored the original integrity of Taoism)68 "In the past when the Pien-Sung69 was about to perish, the teachings of the Taoist school had become worse than ever in their falsity and strangeness. There were then valiant stalwarts who wandered about madly making light of worldly concerns according to their own will, seeking only to return their Perfection. They were called, 'Ch'iian-chen1. Stalwarts who understood the mechanisms that brought about change and disorder all followed it (the Ch'iian- chen sect). The sect greatly expanded, and those who intermingled and came forth from amidst them cannot be sufficiently accounted for (because they were so numerous). They drank from the valley streams and ate from the valleys (lived as hermits), bearing severe hardships and coldness and heat; firmly withstanding what [ordinary] people cannot tolerate and with determination doing what [ordinary] people cannot sustain."70 Statements such as the above without any doubt need to be seriously taken into account. What is cleary implied by these prominent men who witnessed the growth of the Ch'iian-chen sect or were perhaps a part of it is that it was the sect that reformed religious Taoism and re-inforced the doctrines and practices based on the true intentions of the ancient Taoist philosophers. But the basic problems with the above statements as sources 68This passage is come from a biography of the Ch'iian-chen master Hao Kuang-ning found in the second chuang of KSL which was written by an official named Hsu Yen^vJ^. See Plate 8. 69The Northern Sung Dynasty which had its capital in Pien-ching (Kaifeng). 70from the 50th chuan of Tao-yuan Hsueh-kuLu^_^_^. "fc^fc. written by Yuan Dynasty scholar Yu 32 for determining the basic nature of the sect are virtually the same as those that I cited in the statements of Ch'en Ming-kui. These men were essentially writing with the apologetic aim of justifying the worth of the Ch'iian-chen sect. In order to do so they needed to clearly distinguish it from the Taoism that preceeded it which had quite clearly been labeled within intellectual circles as corrupt. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Ch'iian-chen masters themselves held any of these prejudices. Picking up on what was the most definitive and easily noticeable trait of the Ch'iian-chen masters, their extreme asceticism, their apologists identified them with the classical image of the hermit in order to emphasize the difference between them and the infamous magicians and alchemists that preceeded them. They did not care to point out (or some of them perhaps did not know) that their extreme asceticism was a means by which they sought to carry out the physiological processes for long life and Immortal-hood (the theories of which evolved out of the Immortality cult) and to obtain the power to perform miracles and efficacious rituals. While the above passages do imply very strongly that the masters sought to eliminate ritual worship and the use of talismans; evidence in poetry written by the masters themselves clearly proves that such was not the case. But in all fairness to the scholars that I am critisizing, because statements such as the above made by men of such high credibility who lived virtually contemporaneously to the Ch'iian-chen masters do exist in considerable abundance, it is certainly understandable that the "reformist theory" would have developed. The "syncretist theory" is certainly valid to the extent that the Ch'iian-chen masters greatly borrowed elements from the other religions, especially Ch'an-ĵ - (Zen) Buddhism, and claimed that the Three TeachingsX^J^ (Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism) all pointed towards the same ultimate truth. It is a definite fact that Wang Ch'ung-yang used the term "Three Teachings" in naming all of his Five Congregations and encouraged the study of certain non-Taoist scriptures and classics. However, as we will be seeing in 33 Chapter Four, very basic doctrinal differences with Buddhism that had existed within the doctrines of the Ch'uan-chen masters eventually seem to have caused their successors to at times claim a certain measure of superiority for their holy men over those of the Buddhists based on these very same doctrinal differences. In the final sentence of his brilliant article, "Lueh-lun Ch'iian-chen Tao te San-chiao Ho-i-shuo" a ^ - i ^ ^ ^ ^ Z ^ . ^ — ifb 71, Ch'en Pingfj^t writes: "To sum it all up, even though the Way of the Ch'iian-chen greatly emphasized the coming together of the Three Teachings, the core of their doctrines in the end never escaped the traditional path of Elixir Reaction Vessel Faction Taoism which sought to attain Immortal-hood and ascend to Heaven."72 The above words eloquently express how I myself feel. The work of Kubo Noritada and Ch'en Chun-min can be considered definite improvements over that of Ch'en Yuan and Yao Ts'ung-wu in that they have based their statements partly on what they have read from among the voluminous writings of the Ch'iian-chen masters. However, their greatest downfall comes from their not having realized that the Ch'iian-chen sect was but one faction of what is called the "Elixir Reaction Vessel Faction"-^ fj( or "Way of the Golden Elixir"^^}^S, . The Golden Elixir tradition is a movement of religious Taoism that lays its primary emphasis on methods of physiological alchemy (which will be described in detail later on). The Golden Elixir movement seems to have developed from within or evolved out of the the aforementioned Shang-ch'ing and Ling-pao factions of Taoism, gaining prominence from around the late Wu-tai or Early Northern Sung periods. The development of the Ch'iian-chen sect in the north and the Southern SectrfJ f̂; in the 7 1In the January, 1984 issue of Shih-chieh Tsung-chiao Yen-chiu"^-^'^^^^^' . .± > 34 south (which merged with the Ch'uan-chen sect after the Mongols re-unified China) seems to have represented the high water mark in the popularity of the Golden Elixir movement. The essential point that must be understood is that almost all of the "reforms" and "syncretism" attributed to Wang Ch'ung-yang are aspects that existed within the Golden Elixir tradition well before he was even born. The Golden Elixir movement, complete with its abundant and delightful lore involving the exploits of its patriarch Immortals (especially Lu Ch'un-yang^litF^), had firmly established itself in the vicinity of Mt. Chung-nan 4̂\1R d\ (near Hs i-aniS^) where Wang trained himself. While I acknowledge that the statements of the official Hsu Yen^J^Lthat I have quoted above ("without the guidance of a teacher, he was enlightened by himself away from people") would seem to testify to the contrary; by examining the writings of Wang one can see that he must have been a monk who had somehow been thoroughly trained in various abstruse and esoteric teachings (involving both physiological alchemy and ritual methods) of the Golden Elixir tradition. It also seems very likely that from the time before he embarked upon forming his own sect he had been a fervent believer in the Lii Ch'un-yang cult, and as a result underwent (strictly within his own subjective experience) a mystical encounter with the popular T'ang Immortal which marked the beginning of Ch'uan-chen history. In all fairness to the scholars whose statements I will be arguing against, I must point out the that I have benefitted greatly from the fact that religious Taoism has been one of the most rapidly growing areas of Sinology during the past few decades. Recent scholarship has made giant strides in understanding what physiological alchemy was and how it developed. When Kubo Noritada wrote his book, he (and virtually everybody else) did not realize that the Way of the Golden Elixir taught by the Southern Sect was in fact physiological alchemy rather than laboratory alchemy. Thus his clearly stated position was that the two schools had nothing to do with eachother before their eventual merger. But 35 now, the fact that the Southern Sect taught physiological alchemy is commonly accepted by anybody who is knowledgeable in the field. So what, if anything, was the Ch'uan-chen sect's own unique innovation that contributed to the development of the Taoist religion? I cannot honestly say that I know, although they perhaps emphasized intense asceticism more than any other Taoist sect (or any other religious group for that matter) ever had. More than their doctrines, what seems to have made the Ch'iian-chen masters such special religious men was the extremes that they went to in attaining what they considered to be Immortal-hood and the dynamic fashion in which they formed their vibrant full-scale religious movement that seems to have very effectively served the spiritual and physical needs of numerous people of various social backgrounds during some very grave historical times. In the ensuing pages, I will go into great detail in examining the writings of the Ch'iian-chen masters themselves along with the hagiographies and some sources from related religious Taoist schools in order to show you as accurately as possible what they and their followers actually believed and practiced. Understanding the doctrines of the Ch'iian-chen sect is often very difficult because of the fact that there existed a highly esoteric element which was not even intended to be understood by the uninitiated. Because the theories of Perfection Cultivation that they had adopted from the Golden Elixir tradition are such a clever blend of Taoist Immortality theories and Mahayana Buddhist concepts, there are numerous paradoxes and seemingly contradictory elements that seem to exist with this complicated religious system. What makes the religious system even more complicated is the fact that it worked and was applied accordingly at various levels for different believers based on whether they were clergymen or laymen and on the degree of training and insight that they had. Trying to understand this complex yet fascinating religion has 36 been a tremendous challenge and a pleasure, and I hope that the reader will enjoy reading my work at least half as much as I have enjoyed doing it. 37 CHAPTER ONE: THE ASCETICISM OF THE CH'UAN-CHEN MASTERS "From the time I left my house and separated myself from the dusty world, I no longer coveted the fame and profits which are among people. With messy hair and a filthy face I sit in solitude throughout the morning. The livelihood of inner cultivation is inside old shrines and ceramic altar houses. As I allow that red circle (the sun) to sink in the west, I recognize the being within the nonbeing.and I understand the white and preserve the black. Lengthily and softly I control my breathing. In my heart I have no other matters which bind me. I have an arm bag and a cane which I carry about with me as I wear my grass sandals. I do not eat tasty foods, my thighs are bare, and sheepskins clothe my body. When I get hungry I go about begging from door to door. When I have eaten my fill I sing.'Li-lien-lo-li'.1 I allow people around me to laugh and say, 'You stupid, lazy bum!" Is there anybody who knows who I am? To study the Tao the heart must be firm like iron. Completely inside yourself fiercely and suddenly and break loose from the chain of profits and the leash of recognition. Cut, off and get rid of your feelings of wanting and completely abandon all affairs. Have nothing to which you are attached to or which arouses you. Do not stay in your straw hut or grass shack. Reside within the shops and market places and properly preserve the Tao. Rely on this activity, spanning over hours and months. One who practices this way of poverty must rely on coarse food and not be concerned with coldness and heat. With messy hair and a dirty face sit alone throughout the morning. Internally cultivate your livelihood and earn an encounter with the lessons of an enlightened master. People of the world will say, 'Here comes the windy wildman' " 2 1 t ^ D ^ a f i . a J l q r h j s h a s no meaning. These words were commonly sung in sort of the same way in which we would sing "da-dum-dum" or "la-la-la". 2C7u'« Chen-jen YU-lu%&L^t4fc. (TT728)pp.llb-12a. See Plate 10. 38 The above poem by Wang Ch'ung-yang vividly describes the lifestyle of the Ch'iian- chen monk as he undergoes his intense ascetic self training.aimed at the eventual attainment of Perfected Man Ju/x. status. This process of training involved a complete rejection of ordinary every day comforts. The monk was supposed to try to get by with the barest of necessities. By begging for his food and by frequently making himself present among the townsfolk, he was to intentionally put himself to shame and humiliation. By doing this, the monk essentially aimed at ridding himself of all of the feelings and longings which could hinder his enlightenment and perfection. Perhaps the most definitive trait of the early Ch'iian-chen sect was this stress on asceticism. The quest for Perfected Man status ,as carried out by the Ch'iian-chen masters, was an intense procees of survival and perseverance.that had to be carried out until the monk could somehow personally feel confident that he was indeed a full fledged Perfected Man who couldwork with full power and efficiency as a savior of all living things, both during the remainder of the life of his mortal body and during his existence as an Immortal. Also, from the standpoint of those who came to believe in the Ch'uan-chen way of Taoism, it was often this capacity of the Ch'iian-chen masters to overcome extreme ascetic ordeals which gave them their credibility as extraordinary religious men. Later chapters will deal in detail with the theories and methods of Perfection Cultivation and with how the believers came to view the Perfected Men as merciful saviours, miracle workers, and efficacious ritual performers. In this chapter I will try to give the reader an idea of the extent of self denial, trouble, misery and danger that the Ch'iian-chen masters put themselves through out of their sincere faith in the attainability of Immortal-hood. In undergoing this discussion there are certain different kinds of aspects of their asceticism that need to be discussed. First of all, there is the ideal of "pure poverty" which the monk was to abide by throughout his entire life. After discussing this ideal, I 39 will move on to discussing the practice of begging and its significance. While "pure poverty" and begging pervaded the entire life of the Ch'iian-chen monk, his life also included a period of several years in which he had to undergo various severe physical and psychological ordeals. I will discuss how a monk had to maintain complete control of his physical and emotional urges and had to become completely free of anger or fear towards anything. We will see that the ascetic practices of the Ch'iian-chen masters were regarded by them as both a process of elimination of karma and a process of accumulation of merit points recorded within the heavenly bureacracy. Ultimately, I would like the reader to appreciate how asceticism was seen by the Ch'iian-chen masters as the cornerstone of proper Perfection Cultivation and how they acted fully upon this conviction. A good example of what is meant by "pure poverty" can be seen in the following description of the lifestyle of Ma Tan-yang in Tan-yang Chen-jen (The Collected Sayings of Perfected Man Tan-yang : TYL): The master resided in a shack furnished only with a desk, a long couch, a brush, an ink tablet and a sheepskin. It was emty without any extraneous objects. In the early morning he ate one small bowl of rice gruel and at noon ate one large bowl of noodles. Beyond this (gruel, noodles), never did fruits or spicy vegetables go through his mouth."3 In the same book, Ma discusses the importance of maintaining this extremely simple lifestyle: "A person of the Tao must not dislike being poor. Poverty is the foundation of nurturing life. If hungry, eat one bowl of rice gruel. If you become sleepy, spread out a grass mat. Pass the days and nights in tattered garments. Such is truly the lifestyle of a person of 40 the Tao. Therefore you must understand that the single matter of pure immaculateness cannot be acquired by the wealthy."4 What is worth taking note of here is that by saying "poverty is the foundation of nurturing life", Tan-yang is implying that his lifestyle of poverty not only helps erase the desires and attachments that hinder enlightenment, but is conducive to better health. I will be showing clearly in the next chapter that these two benefits were in fact regarded as completely interrelated. "Pure irnmaculateness"^%/^ or "purity and stillness"^^ refers to a state of mind that is completely free of desires and atttachments. But as we will again be seeing in the next chapter, the term can also have definite physiological implications as it perhaps has here. Liu Ch'ang-sheng, as a reason why his sect laid such importance on maintaining an ascetic lifestyle, pointed to the fact that the great enlightened men of old times were ascetics: "Accomplished men of old, wanting to distance themselves from the dreams and rnirages (the impermanent and illusory world), took on the outer appearances of fools. The Confucian Yen (one of Confucius's best disciples) was pure and poor and [owned only ] a rice bucket and a drinking gourd. The Buddhist Sakya (the historical Buddha, Gautama Siddhartha) begged for food and took one meal [per day] by [begging from] seven [different] households. The Taoist [Lu] Ch'un-yang was non-active. He lived like a quail (had no permanent home) and ate like a baby bird, (ate only what was given to him without complaint like a baby bird receives the food given to it by its mother).5 Lu Ch'un-yang, the Immortal who was the putative teacher of Wang Ch'ung-yang, was the consummate role model for Ch'uan-chen monks. Folklore involving the life and 5Wu-wei Ch'ing-ching Ch'ang-sheng Chen-jen Chih-chen Yu-lu^h]%^^^%J^^%^^L p. 3a. See Plate 11. 41 the miraculous feats of this semi-legendary (if not entirely legendary) culture hero had become very popular and widespread during the century or so proceeding the founding of the Ch'uan-chen sect. It can be said that this lore involving Lii, and the cult of "Golden Elixir" internal alchemy and patriarch worship that was connected with it probably formed the most important background tradition of the Ch'iian-chen sect. One of my favorite books among the wide variety of Ch'iian-chen literature available in the Taoist Canon is Ch'un-yang Ti-chun Shen-hua Miao-T'ung Chi^^^^M^j&fakL (The Chronicle of the Spriritual Transformations and Marvelous Penetrations of Imperial Prince Ch'un- yang: MTC), a compilation of Lii Ch'un-yang stories that had accumulated over the centuries and had been selected, edited and commented on by a Ch'uan-chen monk named Miao Shan-shihl5^ft2f in the early fourteenth century. MTC tells us that Lii, after undergoing a miraculous conversion experience at the hands of the Immortal Chung-li Cheng-yang^^j£'^, abandoned all of his wealth and gave it to the poor during a severe famine. Throughout the various stories compiled in MTC, Lii wanders about various regions of China as a sloppy looking beggar, performing miracles and bringing salvation to people who are ready to open their hearts to him. This Lii, as depicted by MTC represented what the Ch'uan-chen masters were trying to become. As we will see in later chapters, the Ch'iian-chen masters sought to become able to perform as miracle workers and saviours, and in fact eventually claimed that they had become able to do so. As has been well documented by modern scholarship, the Ch'iian-chen masters taught that Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism were ultimately the same religion; three different expressions of the ultimate and only reality, the Tao. This basic attitude is clearly apparent here as Liu also points to Yen Hui (a famous disciple of Confucius) and the historical Buddha as examples of great ascetics who can serve as role models for Ch'iian-chen monks. 42 Taking after the example of men like Lii and the Buddha, Ch'iian-chen monks engaged in begging as their primary remunerative activity. For a newly initiated monk, begging was an extremely difficult activity to adjust to. The adjustment that had to be made was primarily mental, as there was a large amount of humiliation involved in appearing in the midst of the townsfolk as a beggar. Another important Immortal who served as a role model for Ch'iian-chen monks was Liu Hai-ch'an ̂ ]^^%, another putative teacher of Wang Ch'ung-yang. In TYL, Ma Tan-yang tells his disciples the following facts about this Immortal which he frequently referred to as his "uncle" fa j>£ : "Sir Hai-ch'an was originally a minister of the land of Yen (a region that included present day Beijing. Liu served under the Liao Dynasty6). One morning he realized the Tao. Thereby he cut off his family connections. His poetry includes the words, 'I abandoned and left the 3000 people of my household fires (domestic life and its attachments). I abandoned my personal troops which numbered one million.' After this he supported his livelihood by begging. Wherever he came to an open area he put on a playful performance (acted in an eccentric manner when in the presence of other people?). He got to the point where he would go into brothels carrying barrels of liquor. He did not feel any embarrassment.'7 Liu Hai-ch'an had in other words abandoned his status of extreme wealth and power in order to pursue the livelihood of a beggar. Begging was just one of the ways in which he intentionally put himself to shame so that he could train himself to be able to shed any kind of self conscious feeling of embarrassment. Thus not only did he beg, but he acted like an insane person and associated unashamedly with the more unsavory elements of society. In Chapter Three I will deal in detail with the significant role of prostitutes within Golden Elixir-Ch'iian-chen Immortality lore. But anyway, an interesting comparison can 6The empire of the Knitan^it %\ people that included parts of Northern China including the area of present day Beijing. It existed from 937-1125. 7pp.5a-b. See Plate 12. 43 be drawn between Liu Hai-ch'an and Ma Tan-yang in that Ma himself was a man who had come from an extremely wealthy background and had opted for the ascetic life. But in the case of Ma, this ability to shed all feelings of shame and embarrassment seems to have developed with much more difficulty. As we can see from the following passage from TYL, Ma had an extremely difficult time adjusting himself to the humiliation of begging: "The Patriarch-Master8 (Wang Ch'ung-yang) one time ordered his disciples to go to Ning-hai and beg for grain, coins and rice. I wanted to have another disciple go for me [and thus said], 'Make another older or younger brother [of mine] (fellow disciple) go.' Later, [Ch'ung-yang asked me], 'Why [do you want me to do that]?' [I answered,]'I, your disciple wish to not have to return to my home village [as a beggar]1. The Patriarch-Master became furious and beat me continously until dawn. Because of the many blows that I received, I had a regressing heart, and I left him. But Master-Brother Ch'iu [Ch-ang-ch'un] urged me into staying. Till this day, neither of us has forgotten [this incident]."9 From the vehement reaction of Wang towards Ma's reluctance we can see how important it was regarded for a monk to have the humility to be able to shame himself in front of anybody, even the people in his home area. Although there is no evidence that he ever resorted to violence like his master frequently did, Ma himself eventually seems to have had to frequently cope with disciples who were reluctant to beg, after he took over the sect's leadership when Wang died. "Mr. Shih ̂ 1 0 of Li-ch'uan (in Shensi) came to see me at the tea room by the eastern gate. I asked him what his name was. He said,'I am the Crazy Man Shih. I am also a disciple of the school of Perfected Man Ch'ung-yang' I had already sensed that this man was afraid of going into the streets and begging. Therefore I took him around with me. I 8A respectful term used mostly to refer to founder Wang Ch'ung-yang or his putative Immortal teachers such as Lii-Ch'un-yang. 9p.l2a. See Plate 13. 10This is the same Shih Ch'u-hou that I mentioned in the introduction who had been a disciple of Wang Ch'ung-yang during the days before he journeyed to Shantung. 44 wanted to share a round of drinks with this wise man. The master [of the saloon] hesitated to serve us (perhaps because of their appearance). Mr. Shih took some money out from his bosom. I said, Do not use this money. You must go into the streets and beg for the money to buy the liquor.' Mr. Shih stared [at me] and and after a while finally went into the streets to beg. He returned with some liquor. I drank it [all] by myself."11 Thus whether through violence or by "skillful means"7~A%_ (upaya ) 1 2 such as that which is described above, a master had to somehow bring his disciples into the state of dedication and humility in which they could become willing to go out into the streets and beg. This lifestyle of "pure poverty" maintained primarily through begging had to be carried out as a life-long commitment. However, the quest for Perfected Man status that the Ch'uan-chen masters underwent and expounded involved much more than just this. In order to become Perfected Men, and to prove to themselves and others that they had indeed succeeded in doing so, they had to toil and suffer in ways that exceeded the normal human capacity. The word, "suffering" is discussed as follows by Liu Ch'ang-sheng: "To suffer means to suffer with the mind and body. The confused people of the world make themselves suffer by coveting life and entering into the road of death. Straining their minds they use their cleverness and thus their [innate] nature sinks into the land of punishments. One who understands the Tao makes himself suffer by training his body. In other words it is like shattering a rock to take out a piece of jade. Straining his will power he forgets cleverness and therefore his nature ascends the Nine Empyreans (Taoist heavens). The wise find enjoyment in the midst of suffering. The foolish suffer in the midst of enjoyment. For the wise, bitterness ends and sweetness arrrives. For the fooolish, enjoyment climaxes and then nTung-hsuan Chin-yii Chi \$^&&%. (CYC) chuan #1 pp.2b-3a (TT789). See Plate 14. 12This is an Buddhist concept that was very important in Ch'uan-chen Taoism. Because the most vital and profound truths are beyond the comprehension of most people, a Buddhist Bodhisattva or a Taoist Perfected Man had to use "skillful means" to adeptly coax ignorant people towards goodness and progressively better understanding 4 5 they are sad. A scripture13 says, 'Blessings are born from difficulties and difficulties are born from blessings.'"14 Taoism as practiced by the Ch'iian-chen masters was a full scale rejection of the selfish seeking of worldly benefits and pleasures in favor of diligent and arduous training in pursuit of Immortal-hood. Rather than resorting to the clever conniving aimed at obtaining the things that most people enjoy in life, they preferred to abandon all such worldly pursuits and to suffer at the lowest levels of poverty, because they maintained that the proper cultivation of mind and body could not be carried out otherwise. As we will see in detail in the next chapter, the Immortal-hood sought by Ch'iian-chen and related Taoist sects was an emancipation from the mortal body and a spiritual ascension into the high heavens beyond the realm of suffering and re-birth. Yet, the quest for Immortal-hood that the Ch'iian-chen masters engaged in was a process of training and strengthening the body as well as the mind. Herein lies an important difference between ascetic monasticism in Ch'iian-chen Taoism (and similar sects) and that in Buddhism. The Buddha, after trying out various ways of seeking out the solution to the problem of human suffering including extreme asceticism, arrived at the conclusion that the enlightenment of mind which brings emancipation from samsara (the cycle of re-incarnation) must be sought through the "middle path", an approach which maintains a happy middle ground between self-denial and comfort. The Ch'iian-chen masters, on the other hand, seem to have felt that the stage of the utmost extreme asceticism was a necessary step that had to be taken. There are passages among their writings which advocate the "middle path" approach to cultivation,which modern scholarship has cited as examples of the syncretic nature of the Ch'iian-chen sect. But it seems as though such exhortations must have primarily applied to ^Huang- 14Wu-wei Ch'ing-ching Ch'ang-sheng Chen-jen Chih-chen Yu-lu (TT728) pp.6a-b. See Plate 15. 46 adepts who had undergone the required preliminary stages. As is evidenced by the above passage and by the teachings and doings of the Ch'uan-chen masters that I will be citing in the ensuing pages, it was definitely required that one test the limits of his mind and body through extreme ascetic practices. In order for the "rock" (the mortal body) to be shattered and the "piece of jade" (Immortal-hood) to be obtained, one was required to suffer through harsh physical training. The quest for Perfection or Immortal-hood was understood as a process in which points (tabulated by certain gods in the heavenly bureaucracy) for "merit"J#) and "deeds" 4"T had to be earned. Thr